Days of Change

What I’ve Been Listening To All Day

October 2, 2017
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Clinton Happened

September 28, 2017
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Donald Trump won with only 46% of all voters choosing him. He couldn’t even get a majority. The last time a president was elected with a lower percentage than that was Bill Clinton in 1992. Yep, we only have to look to the last Clinton to run for president to find a precedent for Trump.

There’s little reason to rehash the mechanics of the Trump victory. In America, you have to win an Electoral College majority, like Trump did. In fact, the two closest states could have gone to Clinton and Trump still would have won. Hillary Clinton had 48% of the popular vote, which was not even a majority. It instead fell between the 43% and 49% popular vote totals Bill Clinton had. If you don’t like this kind of muddled victory, too bad. In the last 7 presidential elections, 4 winners had an Electoral College majority, but failed to win a majority of the popular vote.

Running for president seems like a daunting task, but it must get easier with time. Hillary Clinton ran twice, winning the nomination once. Donald Trump ran twice, winning the nomination (and the presidency) once. In 2012, Romney had run in 2008 and lost the nomination, to John McCain, who ran and lost the nomination in 2000 to George W. Bush. But practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect. Obama and Bush 43 won their first times out. So did Bill Clinton. Bush 41 lost the nomination in 1980, became president in 1988, the lost to Clinton.

So far, Democrats haven’t had much luck this century in running more than once for president and succeeding. The Republicans are another story. Ronald Reagan lost the Republican nomination twice (in 1968 and 1976) and eventually became president in 1980. Almost 50 years ago, Richard Nixon came back from losing the general election in 1960 to become president in 1968.

Hillary Clinton and willing stooges in the media are either explaining or asking “what happened” this week. For the average person, that might be something of a mystery. Polling was just outside the margin of error and the “Democratic Party Machine” was still considered powerful, at least in the case of Barack Obama. Given that Trump’s campaign had mediocre infrastructure at best, even with the RNC behind them, the answer is obvious in hindsight. The Clinton campaign relied too much on data, tried to get a large electoral victory at the expense of close states and ultimately had a product not many people wanted.

Clinton has been a household name for 25 years and not usually a positive one. Her only elected office was as Senator from New York. To win that seat, the party made sure she was the only real competition among Democrats. State Republicans did their part to have lousy candidates as well. Rudy Giuliani might have beaten her. Actually, Donald Trump might have been able to beat her in 2000 or 2006. Her 2008 presidential campaign was blindsided by Obama, but she can’t write a book about how much of an ass Obama was, so she’s focused on Trump instead.

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September 17, 2017
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Donald Trump doesn’t adhere to ideology, just opinion. The difference is that one of the public people willing to give his take on events in the news or just things that bother him. His whole life has been about taking on people who bother him. The new strategy of talking to Chuck and Nancy is an attempt to attack the people who have been bothering him and not passing his pledges. While this is an attempt to weaken McConnell and Ryan, it also is a shot at the Freedom Caucus that if the left takes the deal before the right does, the Freedom Caucus becomes the loser.

The Art of the Deal is a book title suggested by Tony Schwartz to Donald Trump for the book he ghost wrote. Trump’s “art” mostly relies on his various tactics to do illegal things but not be legally responsible. For example, you don’t have to declare bankruptcy if you sell your share first, the other investors can do it. You don’t have to pay your contractors 100 cents on the dollar if your relatively cheap lawyers can settle the bill much lower.

The fallacy of negotiation is that negotiation is when one person wants a banana and the other wants and apple and you compromise with an orange. If everyone met in the middle, each side just changes their endpoints to get what they really want. And if they want a banana, an orange is as bad as an apple. Mostly, negotiation is about position. I remember getting a relatively bad deal on a car while my sister got a relatively good deal. I was more desperate for a car. She was more willing to walk away.

The willing to walk away thing might be one of the arts of the deal. The problem for Trump is that walking away invites rallies with small crowds who might show up to boo him. Right now, he may be in the sweet spot, where the media thinks he’s lost his base and the base thinking Trump is playing everyone on the left. That’s the art of Trump, fooling all of the people some of the time.

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Never the Same

September 11, 2017
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This is the 16th anniversary of September 11, 2001. This is my ninth year of posting on this day. This time, I’ll write about the political impact of this attack.

The election of 2000 was historic in that the man who won the Electoral Vote did not win the popular vote total. Of course, this is less common as of last year. Still, Bush’s win was mired in controversy and he had few coattails. In fact, he lost the GOP majority in the Senate shortly after his inauguration. However, 9/11 came just 7 months after that day.

The rest of the Bush administration was seen through the prism of the War on Terror, with a brief detour into Hurricane Katrina. In 2002, Republicans gained seats based on the response. In 2004, Bush won a clear majority over a Democratic Party criticizing the war. But then, 2006 saw the rise of Democrats again.

To some extent, Obama promised and delivered on a shift of focus away from Islamic terror. At the same time, Republicans slowly rebuilt their numbers thanks to something called the Tea Party. After 9/11, a number of people who considered themselves Democrats of liberal came to their senses over Islamic terror.

The increasing momentum of non-Republicans voting Republican first led to dissatisfaction when the GOP had majorities in Congress, to a sort of revolt when the prospect of a Jeb / Marco ticket being forced on them became a possibility. Even a decade and a half later, the continuing refusal by Democrats to condemn the politics of Islam and both parties unwilling to fight illegal immigration led to a Donald Trump victory.

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A Bad Bad Thing

September 7, 2017
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At some point, Donald Trump will betray almost everyone.

Trump’s rise and nomination and presidency have many parallels to Barack Obama. Neither were particularly experienced. They both wanted to negotiate with the Russians behind the scenes. They both are extreme narcissists. They both hate John McCain. Now Trump is joining Obama in actively working to get people with the same party designation to lose elections.

This week’s deal with Sid Chuck and Nancy is the realization of a threat Trump made earlier. Except it wasn’t Obamacare, where Democrats and some Tuesday Group Republicans might have gotten something passed. No, this was Trump getting a first round of hurricane funding and the Democrats have the Republicans passing a three-month debt ceiling increase so they can talk about a government shutdown again in three months. More than working with Democrats, Trump had threatened that everything wrong is the fault of Congress while anything good is the result of his leadership.

Either way you look at it, however, it’s a bad thing. Obama and the Democrats cut corners and forced all of their Senators and most of their Congress members to pass Obamacare right before the midterms. They lost the House and, in 2014, lost the Senate. However, they managed to put so many people on Medicaid that Republicans are afraid to repeal the program outright. In Trump’s case, he’s forcing Republicans to embrace him which could very well lose Republicans the House in 2018. What does he get for it? It’s the satisfaction of sticking it to Paul Ryan, the guy who’s tax plan Trump will likely plagiarize, and Mitch McConnell, the guy who opened a space for Trump to get Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.

The hopeless Trumpers consider this getting something done, if you define “done” as being 90 days. Others at least speculate that Trump strategically gave away his bargaining positions in order to show outlier GOP groups that they can’t hold up a bill without potentially cutting them out of the process. I think President Trump took a page from businessman Trump. If you’re in trouble, stick your partners with the bills, sell out quick and make them declare bankruptcy.

Days like this, I’m glad I voted for Gary Johnson.

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Plan F

August 23, 2017
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Last year, I was lamenting the inability of Republicans to side with Ted Cruz when he was the only real competitor to Donald Trump in early primaries. Instead, Jeb Bush fell, then Marco Rubio, then John Kasich embarrassed himself until the day Cruz suspended his campaign. Then, there was the short-lived contested election plan. The Democrats tried the Electoral College plot. Each plan got more desperate and unlikely.

Now, the Trump administration has entered that phase.

For months, Trumpers have praised Donald’s ability to master a conflict or persuade people. In reality, he’s more likely to yell at people, fire them or berate them in public. Early on Trump made one deal. Nominate a solid Constitutional originalist for the Supreme Court and Mitch McConnell would lower the vote threshold from an impossible 60 to an achievable 50. Then Trump took all the credit.

Six months later, there’s a Supreme Court justice and not much else. The Obamacare (skinny) repeal was eventually done in by John McCain, the man Trump thought wasn’t a war hero. Besides McCain, Trump is actively campaigning for junior Arizona Senator Jeff Flake’s primary opponent and trashing the aforementioned McConnell. Oh, and Trump’s Interior Secretary tried to strong-arm Lisa Murkowski into changing her vote on Obamacare. That didn’t work, either.

So, in 2018 the House has enough seats in danger to flip the party in power to the Democrats. Even if that doesn’t happen, 10% of the Republicans in the Senate are on Trump’s shit list. While there is no more Steve Bannon to threaten the House, Trump is still there to collectively blame “the Senate” for not doing his bidding.

The best part for me is the Plan B of making America Great Eventually. Trumpers are giving up on the Senate and McConnell. Instead, they are going to primary any Republican who doesn’t get on the Trump train. Of course, McCain and Murkoski just got re-elected. Flake might get beaten by perennial losing candidate Kelli Ward, likely getting a Democrat elected. McConnell is more popular than ever with his Senate colleagues, and they choose the Majority Leader.

Essentially, since Trump can’t directly fire people he doesn’t like, he is trying to get them fired. In the Trump world where everyone else is the problem, this will make everything great again. His supporters firmly believe this can happen because Trump accidentally won the presidency, therefore predictive modeling no longer exists. They can keep believing that for 14 more months.

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To What End?

August 18, 2017
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Looking at the Trump administration so far, it seems that the president’s main motivation is to be validated by his most fervent fans. He schedules nearly monthly rallies to cheering crowds. He tweets bold statements to have an impact on the news. Also, Trump will backslide from more moderate statements when they are viewed as soft by Trumpers. This week was an excellent example. Trump said there was violence on all sides last weekend, which was not helpful to anyone and he gave a more presidential statement on Monday. When reporters challenged him on Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his original tweets.

Trump’s unpopularity with Democrats and Independents is assisted by the media. However, Trump’s unpopularity with Republicans is largely due to his inability to get his agenda through Congress and his willingness to either lose or make primary elections expensive for Senators he needs to pass legislation. Purging the non-believers is a good theory, but it usually results in years of rebuilding.

A year ago, Steve Bannon steered the Mercer family fortune from Ted Cruz to Donald Trump. Rebekah Mercer was a big fan of Bannon and, Bannon was a fan of the kind of big border wall, trade war with China populism of Donald Trump. Bannon was also the authority for the “alt-right” perspective. Ultimately, Bannon was trying to refocus Trump to his original promises. John Kelley is just trying to get Trump to focus and Bannon was in the way.

Either one of two things will happen. Trump will continue to start petty arguments, write executive orders that fail in the courts and annoy enough of Congress that they will completely block his agenda. Otherwise, Trump will bring on more traditional staff, learn to deal with Congress and disappoint some of his most rabid fans.

I’m concerned that Donald Trump isn’t up to the job of president. I’m annoyed by the people who are unwavering in their support because they keep the president from learning to work with people. Donald Trump is well on his way to alienating two-thirds of the Congress and federal employees. If that’s the plan I have to ask “to what end?” Once every RINO and swamp dweller has been identified, how does that affect change? If Trump wants to be a martyr to the cause, he should hurry up, because Mike Pence is waiting in the wings and Trump can’t fire him.

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Republicans, Conservatives and Anarchists

August 13, 2017
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Unfortunately, Charlottesville was the result of counter-protesting. First, we had the original protest of a “national” group of just over 100 people. They were either racists, nationalists, Nazis or Klansmen, depending on the definition. Then there was the counter-protest of ANTIFA, liberals who have unable to live their lives since the election of Donald Trump and instead “resist” by standing around with signs and yelling. Then there was some counter-counter-protesting by the Alt Right who hates liberals.

The man who drove through the protest appeared to be on the anti-ANTIFA side and apparently marched with the White pride group. He could be a madman like the guy who shot Gabby Giffords, or a mad man like the guy who shot Steve Scalise. The big problem right now is that the Steve Bannon Alt Right who supports Trump is trying to divide themselves from the Alt Right that blames other races for their problems.

Most issues effectively have two sides, but having a party with every permutation of issue bias would make political power impossible. Even in countries with multiple political parties, maybe 3-4 have any influence and one often gets the majority. By the way, Trump would have won in a parliamentary system, given the Congressional demographics.

So, there are two parties in the US with a set of positions on various government and social issues. As the voter, you have to decide which collection you like better. Donald Trump offered a two-fer. He promoted border security, something both parties have been tepid on, as well as promoting tax breaks for business as a way to increase jobs, a combination straddling the Republicans and the Democrats.

The only problem is that the Tea Party and its creation Donald Trump, created a third group within the right side of the political spectrum. There are Republicans, conservatives and the anarchists who gave up on the Republicans and distrust many movement conservatives. When I see Trump and his supporters criticizing Republican lawmakers and complaining about “the swamp,” it looks a lot like a group trying to bring everything down. I’m not surprised, since some of the biggest pro-Trump people were Hillary supporters in 2008 who slowly lost faith as she bolstered her primary rival, Barack Obama.

I can tell you what a Republican is. They register as a party, they appear on ballots and they have conventions. I can tell you about conservatives, but sometimes they vary between the cultural Christians and the free expression libertarians. The anarchists are less obvious. There’s the Alt Right, but there’s also the “Alt Left” Bernie supporters. The Democrats are trying to hold on to that group, even though they tend to blame Bernie Sanders for Hillary Clinton’s loss.

However, I don’t think a group that won’t associate themselves with the GOP or conservatism is going to easily separate themselves from KKK offshoots, especially when they call themselves White nationalists. There are only so many distinct sides.

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The Red Pill

August 8, 2017
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Netflix, the home of Iron Sky, chose not to stream documentary film “The Red Pill.” I finally saw this title on my Hulu trial subscription. It’s interesting because of the recent news about a Google employee blowing the whistle on the company’s new focus on “diversity” over quality of content or technology. The employee write about the differences that made female programmers scarce, while the company took great pains to increase their presence.

The premise is that director Cassie Jaye took the “red pill” and discovered what she thought feminism was about has actually veered into a movement designed to pit male privilege against female empowerment.¬†Jaye herself was an actress who found herself in B-movies with no apparent future. Instead, she started making documentaries with a critical view of conservatives. Ironically, Hollywood, the home of celebrity feminists, ended up being the most sexist, trying to exploit Jaye’s interest in acting to get her clothes off in low-budget productions.

The best summary of “The Red Pill” came when one of the Men’s Rights Activists called the place of men and women in society “a mixed bag.” Women have to spend more on their appearance, they don’t get the highest paid jobs in the country as often and they can be at a physical disadvantage to men. At the same time, men often have the most dangerous jobs, they get much harsher prison sentences and verdicts in family courts and they die about 6 years sooner than women. Everyone has problems, and sometimes there’s no oppressor other than life itself.

Feminism was originally a socialist movement that found itself out of money. The leaders learned the lesson of most leftist movements, donations require an unending struggle that is impossible to win. Second wave (or third, I have no idea at this point) feminism skipped the laws and decided that the society was stopping equality. Progressivism is about changing bad law, socialism is about making new laws to enforce right-think. Of course, donations only continue when the struggle is real.

When bosses weren’t able to force their employees to sleep with them, sexual harassment was defined as women being threatened or abused by co-workers. Eventually, it devolved into employees who saw or overheard things that made them feel bad. That kind of “hostile work environment” will never end because when major offenses are removed, the minor offenses become major.

I go back to the model for all socialism, the French Revolution. When France ended the monarchy and all the royals were dispatched, the leaders of the revolution had to govern. When their promises failed and people with hard jobs and little pay stopped working, people were starving and complaining about it. The solution was to punish complainers. When those people were killed or jailed, the problems persisted. Then people would turn in those who complained privately to curry favor with the government. Eventually, society broke down and the founders of the revolution met the fate of so many of the citizens.

Unfortunately, the feminist movement is large and ill-defined. The resistance is vocal, but not nearly large enough. The one positive about “The Red Pill” is that the conflict does not have to be men vs. women. It’s the sane vs. the insane.

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The Long Pull

August 6, 2017
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Trump supporters have 2 speeds. Bitch and moan or cheer and gloat. Plotting and planning are things traitorous Deep State people do. The definition of Deep State expands and contracts but mostly comprises anyone who isn’t an extension of Donald Trump. The President learned his limits when he signed a bill ending his power to lift sanctions against Russia.

The selling point for autocratic rule is quick and decisive action. The drawback is that benevolent dictatorships are few and far between. A country can speak with one voice, but that voice is accountable to a group of people in democracies. The US has increased the amount of power a president has, mostly due to assent. However, Congress can still take that power back.

The biggest threat to the Trump agenda may be the Mueller investigation. Remember, the FBI was looking primarily into Michael Flynn’s activities. Then Donald Trump fired James Comey. Jeff Sessions had recused himself from Russia matters and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, appointed a special counsel take Comey’s place. Comey was supposedly fired over the Benghazi investigation, not the Flynn investigation.

I’m actually surprised about the reaction of conservatives who didn’t initially support Trump who have now switched into bitch and moan mode. They fear a soft coup where Democrats are going to stop Trump from changing anything, using investigations and career government people to thwart him. Of course they are. The reason they can is that Trump has both refused to hire Republicans who weren’t obsequious enough and he does not have enough experience on his team to work in federal government.

Let’s go back to the last, best hope to stop government intrusion, Scott Walker. Walker was fought against and was threatened with an early recall election. Walker had a small majority in the legislature, but he had one goal. Wisconsin started to dismantle the government employee unions that were bankrupting the state and funding the Democrats. If you think the Deep State is entrenched, try organized labor in the home state of unionization.

Running against the government is very popular. Governing against the government is not. In the case of the health care bill, it is clear that Trump will not provide any cover if the Republicans pass something that has growing pains and he is likely to put all the blame for any problems on Republicans, even if they passed a full repeal. How do you get more than 95% of all Congressional Republicans to vote for something where they know they are on their own in terms of blame and will be marginalized in terms of credit? A president must lead their party, not herd it.

Personally, the government that governs least governs best. I don’t give a crap about Trump’s agenda because it is disjointed and ever-changing. He spent over a year bashing Republicans and claiming the mantle of a new party where he is king. Here’s the reward. The government is going to run without him and Trump will find fewer defenders in the party that he is nearly at war with anyway.

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